Series

Life Traps | Pt. 16: Self-sacrificing

Posted by Maria

When it comes to me as a Borderline person, most of the Life Traps we have already talked about are majorly affected by my fear of being abandoned. The Life Trap of Self-sacrificing is no different from Traps like Subjugation and Recognition-seeking, as it stems from the same core place: Please don’t leave me.

A brief summary based on what the book, Tunne Lukkosi by Kimmo Takanen, tells us of the Life Trap of Self-sacrificing:

I have learned to feel guilty about putting my own needs first, and so I am very observant of other’s needs and tend to prioritize them over myself. I’d rather make myself feel bad than upset someone else, it’s is better I suffer than them. As I don’t wish for anyone to be feeling terrible, I volunteer myself so that others may feel better, this makes me feel strong as I’m taking care of people around me. Compassion comes easily, I tend to listen to the issues people have while not talking about my own turmoils. 

I may feel proud of my sacrifice, much like a martyr, which motivates me to do it more. I may neglect myself and deny people that offer me their help, making my problems smaller than they are. It’s also hard for me to ask for help because my role is to be the helper, not the one being helped. This leads to situations where I won’t voice my needs even to my partner but instead I keep wishing in silence to be cherished in the way I cherish others.

The continuous sacrifice makes me unwell, tired, frustrated, and angry, yet I don’t want to showcase these emotions to the public. I may get passive-aggressive and sulk, burning myself out and eventually falling into depression. When I feel like my sacrifice is not appreciated, I may turn around and seek revenge by not giving anything anymore. In the end, everyone else is selfish and neglecting me. This overcompensating easily turns into ignoring people and only taking care of myself. 

The problem with this sacrifice is, that I keep giving the message that I have no needs.

So many times in the past I have told people that I’m fine, that it’s nothing I can’t handle, and then turned it around and started being a “good friend” to the person. I don’t know how many of you know of this, but people just love talking about themselves. Someone like me who is very good at picking up on the important things that matter to others… Oh boy is it easy to get into a chat all about the person’s dog, car, life, and oh my god everything is so stressful, thanks for listening to me ramble! No problem, my friend, I’m always here for you! 

Of course, I do this to mainly steer the conversation away from myself and my pain, but when it becomes a thing that even the nurses fall into – I don’t know what to say, humans are inherently selfish. I’m not saying there’s anything good or bad about this, it’s in everyone’s rights to be about themselves and themselves only. Actually, This is what I should be doing more of.

I tend to truly avoid talking about my problems, so you can imagine the awkwardness from my loved ones as I’ve started to be more open about my episodes and suicidal thoughts and feeling abandoned. It has been a long road towards that, and it took my husband and his family to finally start making me see that it’s ok to talk about my pains. 

I come from a culture of DIY.

High fever? No problem, just sleep it off and you’re good to go. Feeling fluish? Just keep going to work and stop your whining. Oh, your head is falling off? Maybe you need to go get that checked. But don’t forget to call me if you can’t come tomorrow!

And this is just the physical side of it. Mental health has a much bigger stigma. 

I remember not being taken seriously by the head of the department in vocational school when I went to tell her I feel terrible because I’m being bullied. All I got was that I should get my priorities straight, that it is somehow my fault since I’m so antisocial. Oh well.

Another time I recall I couldn’t stop working, the pressure of the peers looking at me badly like I’m lazy or trying to avoid doing my job… It is too much. At least in the restaurant business, you can not show that you are cracking. That is the rule. I ended up not being able to function after my shifts, sometimes crying silently as I was on dishwashing duty. 

Asking and receiving help is a sign of weakness.

That is the driving force in my mind about this topic. And on the flip side, giving help and always sacrificing and being ready to go go go! is a saintly, good thing to do. People like you when you want to make their lives better. This is how you end up doing people’s homework and neglecting your lifelong dreams and desires.

The worst of this state of mine was with an ex-partner. He was a very charming, radiant person and got a lot of people to befriend him easily. Thing is, he had demands. One of them broke me to the core, as I had to choose between writing or him. Of course, I sacrificed and chose him. And what was it about? I had asked to have an hour or two for myself. In the middle of my writing, the person got incredibly hurtful and toxic, and so I gave up writing. That decision I regret to this day. I didn’t write for years. 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when people like me, who would give up their dreams for another person, have to endure through said things, start being very unwell. Depression, anxiety, constant fear, are only a few of the states we have to keep living in until we can find the courage to try and take that first step towards the light. Lucky for me, I’m now in a much more safe and stable environment, one that is healthier and allows me to start taking those baby steps.

I have needs.

That’s something I’ve started to come to terms with. Or rather I’ve started to get a grip of the fact that it’s completely, 100 % alright for me to take care of my needs and to ask for them to be fulfilled as well. I matter. My dreams and wants matter, just as much as anyone else’s. And they should matter even more to me than the mundane shit of other people, no offense.

I am a firm believer that should every person on this planet be more selfish and take care of their own business before they start sticking their noses into other people’s stuff, it would be a much calmer world. Happier too. We don’t need to care about the neighbor’s lawn, the cousin’s school issues, or even about the friend’s unemployment. All we need to care about is our own situation. Am I doing alright? I have a home and food? Am I sleeping well and getting enough exercise? How is the family that lives under the same roof with me? Are they doing well?

My husband talks about the good kind of selfishness a lot. He understands that by being truly selfish, he will also make sure I am doing alright since as his wife, I contribute to his happiness quite a bit. The same goes for his family. But that’s pretty much where it ends for him. He is right in though, all the whales in the sea that need rescuing, or the people starving, caring too much about them does nothing to make our lives better. And, we as a unit, we matter the most to us.

Of course, I’m not telling you to become a certified monster and completely stop caring about humanity. I am merely saying that we should focus on our own circles. There is plenty of pain just behind the corner, we don’t need to reach across the world for that.

Do you put yourself first? Let us know in the comments!


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2 thoughts on “Life Traps | Pt. 16: Self-sacrificing

  1. Amethyst

    You have every right to focus on yourself and your needs. I put myself last, but I’m fixing that.

    1. Maria

      I’m glad you are starting to the time to care for yourself, it’s such an important thing to do!

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